A Travellerspoint blog

Turks and Caicos

December 29-January 5, 2023

Day 1

Flights here were fast, with no issues. My plane from Charlotte to TCI was literally half full, I'm guessing due to all the delays that SouthWest had. My airline was American, but maybe they had issues that I didn't know about. Hardly anyone was on the plane and I had my row to myself (yay!). After arriving at TCI, there was a long outside ramp to walk down from the plane and I was immediately hit with the heat and humidity. Coming from a cold place, I soaked it in the heat and sunshine. I passed airport personnel holding up umbrellas to shade themselves from the sun. I said "you don't know how wonderful this sun and heat feels" and they said, "this is our life every day, we need protection." Fair enough! I wish I had that problem.

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I had signed up for Fast Track TCI and I saw the representative before I entered the immigration area. She put a band on me and sent me the down the "express" lane, however, I was the only person in line. I glanced at the non-fast track lines and no one was in them, but again, I didn't have luggage so I really don't know if the normal lanes eventually had lines or not.

I rented a car from Grace Bay Car Rentals because they are next to the airport and they were highly recommended on Reddit. They had an office inside the airport, I stopped there, and the representative said to walk across the street to the office to pick up my car. I did so, and they had me fill out the rest of my paperwork, and pay, and they walked me to my car. My car was a right-side drive Suzuki Swift Hybrid. We both looked at the car, wrote notes on any previous damage, and took pictures. They gave me my keys, and off I was to figure out how to drive on the left.

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They drive on the left here, and before I came I was so stressed about driving on the left. The last time I had done it was in 1998 in Sydney, Australia, but it was only 1/2 mile, so it doesn't count. But to my credit, I did fantastic driving on the left. After the first few roundabouts, I got it down. Now I feel like a native driving on the left and doing the correct thing in the roundabouts (give way to the right and if I am going all the way around, use my signal). However, I keep hitting the wipers instead of the turn signals because those are reversed. (update: I'm back home and am having a hard time using my turn signals, and am instead turning on my wipers).

Google Maps was great with the GPS and lead me to my first stop, IGA Graceway. It was one roundabout away from my Airbnb. I stopped to pick up food. Single-use plastics are banned in TCI, so they had paper bags, which they charged for. As for the prices, omg. I went to buy a loaf of honey wheat bread that I have at home and it was $9.00. They use USD here, btw. Beyond Beef veggie burgers were $16! I ended up buying bread, mayo, different cheese slices, chips, and Kraft mac and cheese. This is NOT what I would eat at home, but it seemed the most economical to me to eat here.

When I arrived at my Airbnb, it was exactly as described. I got in, placed all my belongings on the kitchen table, and went into the bedroom/bathroom area. It was separated from the kitchen by an outside door. All looked great. I went back into the kitchen area to put my food in the cabinets and fridge and saw... roaches!!!!! Mother fucking roaches. I immediately put everything I had purchased at IGA in the fridge, thinking all of my food would be safe there. I WhatsApp'd my host about the roaches, and he said he would be by with spray.

That didn't comfort me and I absolutely didn't want to stay here. At all. I searched Airbnb, plus hotels, and any accommodation really, and there were no rooms anywhere on the island. To be fair, it was a few days before New Year's Eve so I understand, but it was so frustrating. I immediately put everything back into my car except my toiletries and the clothes I was wearing. I am not bringing home roaches! I am so grossed out that I don't want to touch anything in this Airbnb. After I saw the roaches I checked for bedbugs, luckily there are none plus he has a mattress protector on, which was worse than I expected.

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What frustrates me is that after my stay I checked his reviews. He never allowed my review to go up, but someone stayed after me and their review stated: "It was an okay stay - the biggest inconvenience was that there were lots of insects (small roaches and flies) in the kitchen area as soon as we arrived, including in all the cupboards. They stuck around."

I was so generous and gave him 4 stars ONLY because he promised to take care of the roaches. I really wanted to give him 3 stars. The room was as described and the bathroom was fine. But there were roaches in the kitchen. I didn't want to ding him for that assuming it was a fluke. Because he refused to publish my review, here are my videos. Plus the link to the Airbnb.

Here are the bugs.

Day 2

Woke up at 6 am, needed coffee, and even though I bought some, there was no way I was touching anything in that kitchen. I see the host dropped off a can of Raid, but he didn’t actually spray it, I guess he left it up to me. I had a boat to catch at 845am, so I drove to Bay Bistro and had coffee and a fruit plate for breakfast.

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After breakfast, my boat pulled up on the beach and I had a wonderful 5 hours of snorkeling and chilling with a few iguanas on Little Water Cay. I didn't know people actually fed them, my eco-minded self said that was illegal, as it should be. So when I was walking solo through the dunes (I asked if it was ok since a lot of places around the world the dunes are off limits) I spotted my first iguana, then another, and then another. They started following me. More showed up that I didn't see before. I was a bit freaked out because they are tiny dinosaurs and I didn't know if they were pissed I was walking in their territory or if they were mad about something else. As I'm walking away from them getting these awful thorns stuck in my feet, I the others from my boat appear out of the tall grass walking towards me following the tour guide from my boat. And yes, the tour guy was feeding them. He was just dipping the end of a stick into a small chunk of pineapple, but they all rushed around him. I don't think that is right, but it's not my call, and I realized the mini dinosaurs aren't trying to eat me, they wanted me to feed them.

It was a fun trip and snorkeling was amazing. This was actually my very first snorkeling trip, so when I got in at the reef and stuck my face in the water, it literally took my breath away. It was so clear and so stunning, it was just like you see on Discovery Channel shows. It was an entire world that I had never seen firsthand before. It was almost unreal. It was a life memory I will never forget.

We eventually got back on the boat, the ladder was easy for my knees but I did have to time walking up with the waves. They served us fresh fruit and rum punch. The rum punch was great, I'm not gonna lie. We headed back to Coral Gardens beach and they turned on the music. I'm not opposed to music, but holy fuck this music was loud. It was so loud it kept setting off my Apple Watch with "Loud Environment" warnings.

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After the boat dropped us off, I had lunch at Bay Bistro, went back to my roach-infested Airbnb, enjoyed the sunset, and went to bed.

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DAY 3 New Year's Eve

Woke up with my roach friends, I was too afraid to touch anything, so I went to Coral Gardens and ate at Somewhere Cafe, I ate a great breakfast with a mimosa to start the day.

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This location is at the Windsong Resort, so because I’m not staying at the resort (unfortunately!!) I can’t use their umbrellas. There is a guy renting them, and that cost me $70 for the entire day. Ouch. But I paid for it, and I snorkeled the entire day at Coral Gardens Reef. What an amazing experience. The reef has a protected area sectioned off, it is clear as day with the ropes and buoys, but of course, plenty went into the protected area. The poor guy from Windsong Resort has to stand there blowing a whistle at the idiots until they swim out of the area. I talked to him about it, and he just shook his head and said he doesn't understand why people are the way they are.

I returned to my roach Airbnb and texted the host saying this is gross, I have no idea how to rate him. I don’t want to kill his income stream but at the same time, these roaches did not just appear. And why didn't any previous Airbnb guests not mention the roaches in their reviews? Especially those who were here 2 weeks earlier?!

It was New Year’s Eve and how wonderful it was to fall asleep not hearing gunshots or fireworks.

DAY 4

The next morning, the host called to see if it was ok to send 2 cleaning people around. He did, and they sprayed and mopped and cleaned. I stayed at the Airbnb and read a book because I had gotten a little burned the day before and wanted to heal up a bit. After they left, the roaches were back.

DAY 5

I woke up this morning early as I have an ATV tour at 730am. I was determined to make coffee and flipped on the lights. And, you guessed it, roaches. I opened up the fridge and there was a roach in it. I jumped on the Airbnb site, found another Airbnb!!!! I’m moving in today.

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Older posts

Upcoming trip! I scored cheap tickets from Nashville to TCI way back in March. In only a few weeks (as I’m writing this), I will be off to beautiful blue water, warm weather, and sunshine—a far cry from the brown, dark, cold weather here in Nashville. I’m staying a little longer than I would have liked, but it was the only way to get the $235 rt tickets.

I will be there for New Year's Eve, though I don’t plan on attending any festivities. Being a solo female, you have to be careful, and being out at midnight with all the drunk people around just isn’t safe for me. I have a $ 79-a-night Airbnb that I am going to be staying at, and I rented a car from Grace Bay Car rentals. I also signed up for Fast Track TCI both arriving and departing, which is supposed to assign me a person to get me through a fast line through immigration. The airport is really small, and since international flights tend to all arrive and leave around the same time you can wait forever to get through customs and immigration. And I hate waiting. So I will see if it's worth the money or not.

I’m debating whether to take a carry-on or not. I have a small, half-size carry-on that can fit under a seat. Normally I would just like to travel with my small backpack, but TCI is so expensive that I want to bring some food with me. And since I will be snorkeling all day every day, I will have my snorkeling mask and tube, plus reef-safe sunscreen, and my camera. So I will have a few more things than normal. There is no way I could fit everything I need in my backpack. I just hate bringing a carry-on.

They drive on the left there. :/ The only time I have driven on the left was back in 96 or 97 in Australia. I only drove for maybe 1/2 mile home. So that doesn’t count. Not only do they drive on the left, but they have no traffic lights, and intersections are roundabouts. And on top of that, most cars are unregistered, the drivers crazy, total disregard for traffic laws. And this is direct information from the government tourism site.

Unfortunately, there is little enforcement of road rules by the police, and this can make driving in the Turks and Caicos unsafe and unpleasant at times. Many cars on the road are not registered, do not have license plates, lack insurance, and are driven extremely recklessly. This is especially common with the operators of illegal jitney taxis, of which the Government does not regulate and chooses not to enforce the rules against. For example, these illegal taxis will stop in the middle of the multi-lane Leeward Highway to pick up passengers and it's common to see road accidents caused by these actions. You are advised to remain vigilant when driving, keep a safe distance, and be prepared to stop suddenly.

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Update 12/15 Activities I have planned:

Half Day Sail and Snorkel with Ocean Vibes
Off-road ATV & UTV Adventure in Providenciales

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Updated 12/22

Ok, I just added two more activities, including parasailing. I'm fucking terrified. I've watched too many videos on what can go wrong. But you know what? When I'm on my deathbed, I don't want to think "I should have done that'. So, I'm doing it.

Grace Bay Parasailing

I also booked Clear Kayak Drone Photoshoot.

And on my last day in paradise, I am doing
Full Day Beach BBQ Lunch & Snorkeling Excursion in Grace Bay

So I have an activity every day except for Jan 1. But that is OK. On that day, I will go to Grace Bay and chill. I will enjoy the shallow, beautiful water, read my kindle, and relax.

Just 7 more days!!!!

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Update 12/25/22. So, I canceled my parasailing because I'm chickenshit. The more I thought about it, the more I thought about my nightmare dreams at night that involve flying/falling and all this seems this is the same thing. No way. So I canceled.

But I did download 2 additional Stephen King books to my Kindle, so I am all set for snorkeling and my Kindle on the beach. For Christmas, I received a waterproof snorkeling bag. I needed this. Since I am going solo, I have no one to watch my stuff on the beach, so I need to take my phone and keys with me.

I *am* taking 2 bags with me, my carry-on (a small, ugly af, mustard poo colored backpack (if you have ever had breastfed kids, you know what I'm talking about) and my small half-size rolling carry-on. Both fit under the seat. I will have all of my electronics (CPAP, chargers, liquids, etc.) in the rolling bag, and my clothes and snorkeling gear in the backpack. Since I will be the last to board (remember, I have the cheap tickets), a lot of times the overhead space is taken up. Because my small backpack is squishable, they usually let me on with that and my under-seat carry-on because it will all fit. But if they want to check something, I will give them my backpack. But again, I pack very light, so it can be squished into the overhead bin.

I am still debating doing "something" on New Year's Eve night. Normally I just sleep through it the best I can, but since I will be in paradise, I want to be on the beach and watch the fireworks up and down Grace Bay. But I am a solo female. And I hate driving at night. My Airbnb is only a mile or so from the beach. I will make that determination once I get there if it is safe for me to go to the beach at midnight (hotels all around so not isolated) and if I feel comfortable driving on the left, in the dark, to get back to my Airbnb.

4 days left! I'm tired of this -1 and snow. Get me outta here!

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December 26, 2022

I am so fortunate to receive the Watertrace Waterproof Pack from my inlaws for Christmas. Remember that I am traveling alone, so I have no one to watch my phone, keys, money, etc on the beach while I am snorkeling. This will allow me to leave my Sandcloud Towel and water bottle on the beach, but let me take my cell phone, money, and car keys with me snorkeling. I am just doing beach snorkeling when I'm not on a trip, so I don't mind it will keep me floating. I am very happy about receiving this pack. Thank you to my wonderful in-laws!

I'm part of the Amazon Vine Program, and earlier in November, this iPhone diving case showed up on my feed. I grabbed it, and now I'm anxious to use it when I'm in TCI. I have a GoPro, but this case is for my awesome iPhone with its superior camera. I'm going to use both.

Now it's only 3 more days... 3 more days.... 3 more days till the only white I will see is the beach! I can make it...

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Posted by Lumpy4Square 03:00 Archived in Turks/Caicos Islands Tagged turks_and_caicos

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